NYS Theaterama 1964

Theaterama Building under construction

Queens Theatre in the Park 2000 


Renovated Theaterama Building


Back in 1971, a CBS Executive decided to make use of the Theaterama portion of the NYS Pavilion by opening a Community Theatre. I had been in this building many times prior and always wondered what could be done with the building. I was there when he and several others looked over the facility before leasing it. He had dreams of much success for making Queens a focus on the "arts" which was Robert Moses' idea for the NYS Pavilion.

With limited funding, the building was renovated to add seating and lighting. Several "off-Broadway" type shows ran there for several years until the "ball dropped" several years thereafter. The theater closed because of lack of money.

In the 1990s, finally more money came in to renovate the Theaterama building which has an active Community Theatre to this day. I met with one of the directors in 1998 and visited the site. I must say an excellent job was done to the building.

I asked what was going on with the towers. He replied that several prominent business developers and one famous actor were interested in renovating the towers into a restaurant and observation deck. Further, the city had some sort of report on the state of towers which deemed them (in his words) "unsafe" and "unstable" which would require several million dollars to just keep them from eventually collapsing (I personally am trying to obtain a copy of this report).

The main portion of the "Tent of Tomorrow" building has had no proposals that this person knew of. We both looked over the building and noted the huge cracks in the building's walls, the floor in a million pieces, the second story roof collapsing in several areas; but all the columns and supporting cables intact and in good condition.

It appears the building can be renovated. But at what expense?

Charles Aybar
Posting to Message Board
August 2, 2000


New Towers/Old Towers 

Source: Personal Collection, Copyright 2000, Rod Smith

The glorious restoration of the New York State Pavilion's Theaterama building stands as a modern testimonial to what can be accomplished with vision, funding and volunteerism.

It seems New York, and the country as a whole, are rediscovering what the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair has meant to the popular cultural history of America.

Is there a Tomorrow for the rest of Philip Johnson's New York State Pavilion? Can the decay be halted and a viable purpose be found for one of the few remaining physical legacies of New York's last great exposition?


Decaying Pavilion 

Source: Personal Collection, Copyright 2000, Elizabeth Klug


What a bizarre situation!

You have the beautifully renovated Queens Theatre almost directly beneath the towers. The organization that runs the theater surely had to prove to their insurance underwriter that those 18-gazillion ton platters won't come hurtling down on their patron's heads. You can't tear 'em down because it costs too much and you'd have to close the theater for several months. The "Tent of Yesterday's Tomorrow" stands defiantly, thumbing its nose at all those engineers who had it sinking to ground level by now. The tent is also a costly demolition. So what do you do?

You take a portion of that demolition money and replace the rotted stairways in the towers. Now that you have access again, you repair the damaged elevator mechanisms, clean, paint, rewire and relight. You charge a few bucks a head to ride up the towers in which is now the highest vantage point on Long Island.

Now you let some designers loose on the tent. Maybe trains some vines through those roof support wires to create a semi-shaded area below. Cut up the Texaco map into sections and sell 'em to collectors. Cover the area with pavers, install planters, etc. Rent it out for weddings, reunions, gatherings, whatever. Same with the lower [towers].

Or do it some other way. My point is that there is no lack of uses for the facility. Just a lack of imagination.

Mike Krause Message Board posting
August 1, 2000


Broken Map, Roofless Pavilion 

Source: Personal Collection, Copyright 2000, Elizabeth Klug


Can we save it? YES! But it is going to take a lot of politics to do it. Making this a permanent Art facility would be the correct choice as was back in 1966. The towers were to be used as an observation deck and food facility as well. START TALKING TO THE POLITICIANS AND MONEY MAKERS TO GET THINGS ROLLING!!!

Charles Aybar
Posting to Message Board
May 5, 2000

 Restored Theaterama

Source: Personal Collection, Copyright 2000, Bruce Mentone

Top Photos Source: L: Book, "Remembering the Future"
Top Photos Source: R: The Queens Theatre in the Park website

Dr. Charles Aybar is a frequent contributor to the Message Board at He attended the Fair numerous times as a young man and spent much time in the restored post-Fair Flushing Meadow Park between 1967 and 1974. During much of that time he was employed by the lessee of the Pavilion while it was known as the Roller Round and became intimately familiar with the building. Today, Dr. Aybar holds a Ph.D. in Marketing/Business and lives in the Southwestern U.S. with his wife and two children.

If you'd like to learn more about the current condition of the New York State Pavilion, use this link to Phillip Buehler's excellent website "Modern Ruins."


Read the Final Report of the Proposed Air & Space Museum Project for the New York State Pavilion.

Final Report of the Air & Space Museum project
at the New York State Pavilion


webmaster's note: I'd like to thank the many people who contributed to these pages. Thanks to the visitors who recorded their thoughts or expressed their opinions so well on the Message Board -- Ken and Ken, Mary Ellen, Fred, Mike and Gene. To Charles and Bruce for their insightful contributions of the construction of the pavilion and its maintenance and use as a post-Fair structure and to Gary for the pavilion's Construction Fact Sheet. Finally, to the many people and organizations who contributed visually to the site -- to Bradd, Rod, Ken, Liz, Bruce, Curtis at BBQ Productions, Ray, Mary Ellen and Larry. Your kindness is greatly appreciated. May your efforts here at help to bring about a positive future for the New York State Pavilion.

Please be aware that the photographs on these pages are the personal property of the individuals who loaned them for use at PLEASE, do not reprint them without seeking permission from them by contacting They thank you for your consideration!

Bill Young
August 17, 2000